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Bastards & Broadswords Origen's D&D 5E campaign.

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Old 11-23-2013, 06:31 PM
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Default 6 Months Later [Season 1: Episode 1]

6 months later

Gronk ran across the plains with the wind in his hair. He'd been running for six days straight, which was an unusual feat of endurance even for him. But it felt like leaving a weight behind. The grief still came back in brief, painful shocks, but these eased with every mile he put behind him. The last time he'd had to rest was a two days before when a pack of wolves took off from a nearby hill, and tried to catch him. He'd seen the wolves coming from far enough away that he altered his course and moved away from them. Wolves were short-distance hunters. If they emerged from a nearby hillock or a copse of the short, hardy trees that grew near creeks and small lakes on the plains, Gronk would have to kill some of them. It was a lean season, and the wolves were hungry. And hunger gave them speed. But they gave up after sprinting for a half-mile. Gronk laughed.

He looked down from a hill, onto Critfumblia. It was the largest city he'd ever seen. A group of merchants approached the city from the west, trying to make the city gate before nightfall. He followed them from a short distance. Two men with crossbows made a point of turning around on the carts and watching him. He held up his hands to show they were empty. One of them nodded, but both kept their crossbows across their knees. Not too close, their actions communicated. Gronk had guarded enough caravans to understand their caution.

Gronk's armor and his war maul was strapped to his back, anyway, to let him run faster.
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"Be orderly in your life, and ordinary like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your works." - Gustave Flaubert
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Old 11-24-2013, 02:15 PM
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From a short distance, the small white ferret watched the proceedings with interest.



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Old 11-24-2013, 02:55 PM
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Occasional pilgrims made their way into the city, on their way to the Avenue of the Gods in Critfumblia. During the day, when the hateful sun burned its way across the sky, Selsdrin Everhar watched them mingle with the merchants. The more militant orders sometimes doubled as merchant guards and bodyguards for the wealthy. He avoided the large and well-armed groups, and anyone who might ask too many questions.

It offended his sense of honor to steal, but this was enemy territory, and he was acting as a scout more than an envoy currently. So he stole into camps late at night, stealing meat and bread and water as needed.

Then, one day, he saw a pilgrim like no other. The pilgrim was bundled like a leper, but did not beg as one of the diseased might. And nobody appeared bothered by the pilgrim's presence. They simply bowed, and stepped aside. Everhar thought perhaps the pilgrim belonged to an order under oaths of silence, because the wrapped figure appeared to communicate by gestures rather than speech.

Everhar crept into a camp one night, and strangled the pilgrim with a garrote. Those who slept nearby did not even stir as the pilgrim kicked, stilled and ceased to breathe. He dragged the body a short distance away, and undressed it. He was mildly surprised to find the pilgrim was a not-unattractive human woman of perhaps 20 or 25 summers, as surface dwellers told time. He shrugged, bundled himself in her clothing, took her money, and buried the body under a thin layer of dirt before returning to the camp. He draped her holy symbol from a leather thong around his neck.
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"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." - Chaucer

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” - John Steinbeck, East of Eden

"Be orderly in your life, and ordinary like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your works." - Gustave Flaubert
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Old 11-24-2013, 03:06 PM
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It's been a slow season, Malek. After that princeling you brought back alive from the whorehouses out East where he was spending his uncle's savings like water, it's been nothing but contract work hunting down unfaithful husbands, petty criminals, the occasional job collecting money owed and - when your purse is nearly empty - bouncing at a tavern or contests of strength and wrestling at local fairs.

Truth to be told, you're beginning to wonder if perhaps the rumors of war down south aren't worth checking out. You've known a few mercenaries who retired quite handsomely, and become respectable.

Lately, you've started watching the boats in the harbor for ships headed south out of Critfumblia. One of them probably needs a strong arm with a sharp sword to guard a valuable cargo. Or a rich merchant's daughter on her way to a wedding who could use some, ah, protection. Right.
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"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." - Chaucer

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” - John Steinbeck, East of Eden

"Be orderly in your life, and ordinary like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your works." - Gustave Flaubert
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Old 11-25-2013, 12:52 AM
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Rooker Wolven, you've arrived in the city with a band of merchants traveling from the south with a load of rare spices and a small supply of cut gems. They've traded a little gossip about minor princelings and trader captains over their fire at night. It feels good to rise before dawn and perform your katas on the grassy plain. You run the last mile to the city.

The dwarven quarter is in the northwestern section of the city. Dwarven honor guards in full plate guard the main gate. Children gather around the gates for the changing of the guard, imitating the slow, deliberate steps of the armored warriors who defend the well-made and fortified gates.

You are about to get in line for those entering the dwarven quarter, headed toward their central library, when you notice them.

They make no attempt to hide themselves. Four members of the Order of the White Rose. You hiss through your teeth, and curse every whore's son among them. One of them has a silver hem on his robe. A seeker.
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"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." - Chaucer

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” - John Steinbeck, East of Eden

"Be orderly in your life, and ordinary like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your works." - Gustave Flaubert
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Old 11-25-2013, 01:01 AM
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The Silver Lotus docked in the morning. Xiong Fan deemed it prudent to depart quickly, all debts paid. Though losing two sailors during a long voyage was certainly not unusual, several of the older sea hands had begun to pinch the tip of their left ears when he walked past. A subtle gesture, but amongst the sailors of the Guatang Island chain, it was a gesture designed to ward off evil. The officers certainly suspected nothing, but then again, they were the least likely to administer a dagger in the back. Fan slept little, but he did require sleep sooner or later. Best to be on his way.

The whispers had brought him here. The glancing truths showed him a library, and possibly a tome or set of tomes that would set him on the next step of the journey. He had seen dwarves in his mind's eye. Guards with large war axes, and a gate.

Fan made his way into the city.
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"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." - Chaucer

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” - John Steinbeck, East of Eden

"Be orderly in your life, and ordinary like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your works." - Gustave Flaubert
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Old 11-27-2013, 01:12 PM
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Rooker patted his pockets, as if he had forgotten something important. The dwarven scribe with his case full of quills, small knives and scroll cases promised to hold his place in the line and Rooker moved unobtrusively to the back of the line and away from the square. Nobody followed him.

An hour later, he returned and the White Roses and their seeker were gone. Doubtless, they moved on to meddle in someone else's business. Saviours of the world, guardians of the Seven Realms. Just ask any one of them. They were sought out as scholars, mentors to the bright and smiling children of the leaders and heads of merchant families to teach languages and mathematics, or martial trainers for the bodyguards of heads of state. They scored consistently high marks and took back championship belts and trophies at the non-lethal combat demonstrations each year between the various monastic schools. And they produced scientists, philosophers, theologians and adventurers in psionics and the mind sciences almost without peer.

Rooker hated them. They were easy to despise, and harder to ignore. They frequently employed his order for necessary missions that required getting hands dirty, or breaking someone else's knuckles. They were quick to take the credit for any successes, and just as quick to distance themselves from any failures. The White Rose saw his order as technicians and soldiers, rather than peers. It had always been so.

He presented his letters from the Order at the gate. He wanted to visit the library at the temple of Dumathoin. The great libraries were always located on the east side of the main temple of Moradin in any dwarven quarter or city. It symbolized that knowledge was always in the right hand of leadership, just as the temple for Clanggedin Silverbeard was always on the western side of the same temple, because he was the shield of the dwarven people.

Any fortified gate or dwarven guard post always contained a small axe-shaped altar for burning incense to Silverbeard. In fact, as Rooker knew, incense in any well-maintained dwarven outpost - was there any other kind? - usually meant keeping a stick of incense burning at all times. The captain of each watch always lit the incense with a piece of flint and the edge of his axe. And at the end of each watch, when the captain handed off his duties to the captain of the night watch or the captain of the twilight watch, he or she always said, "Rugh ogga dohn," or literally, "The fire still burns." Whoever took on the next watch replied, "Megh agga dohn." May it always burn so.
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"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." - Chaucer

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” - John Steinbeck, East of Eden

"Be orderly in your life, and ordinary like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your works." - Gustave Flaubert
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Old 11-27-2013, 01:35 PM
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Rooker obtained his pass for the day in the dwarven quarter. They looked at his staff and implements, and saw no need for claiming or peace-binding any of them. Rooker made his way toward the library. On the edge of his consciousness, he felt a slight ping, as if someone had struck a small silver bell, or stepped on his grave, or he'd just been made.

At the end of the street stood the silver-hemmed seeker in his white monk's robes. Two more of the White Roses stepped out from an alleyway behind him. Another emerged from a doorway nearby. Rooker rolled his eyes. Such a sense of theater. He recognized the White Rose who approached him: Erik Shan. He had bright blue eyes, a long blond ponytail and a cleft chin that would have looked more appropriate on an actor than loaded between the pointed ears of an elf. He was also tall and athletic for an elf.

"Rooker Wolven, acolyte. Shall we step into an alleyway and talk?"

Xiong Fan, Disciple of the Eighteen, you are standing nearby. [Yes, this may seem a little forced, but I'm trying to get you guys together this week and out into the adventure. Work with me, here. The PC halo is in full effect, and for some odd reason, you guys trust each other.] You have your ticket visiting the central library of Dumathoin tucked into your pocket. The monks don't really notice you, as they tend to ignore foreigners from the East. You've learned to use this to your advantage.
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"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." - Chaucer

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” - John Steinbeck, East of Eden

"Be orderly in your life, and ordinary like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your works." - Gustave Flaubert
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Old 11-27-2013, 02:06 PM
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Selsdrin Everhar, you manage to make your way into the city with the last group of travelers before they close the gates for the night. The trudging walk across the plain to the front gate, even in the last light of the setting sun, is hell. It feels as if the sun is literally beating your head. You can hear Corellon Larethian laughing in his burning chariot as it rides across the sky toward evening. You don't have the strength to curse him.

As night unfolds, your comfort returns. This is your element. You move comfortably from shadow to shadow, moving through the city as its normal inhabitants might find their way during the day.

In a square, you find a faire. Entertainers, jugglers, fire-breathers, acrobats, pickpockets, mind-readers, fortune tellers and knife-throwers mingle with hawkers of meat pies, pastries, and beer brewers selling their wares. It is a sickening cornucopia of smells and sounds.

You need someone to watch your back up here. Your eyes scan the crowd. Then, you see him.

He is one of the most enormous ogres you've ever seen. He looks to be a half-breed, because he is faster and more agile than a normal ogre. But he has all of their power and brute strength. In a wooden bowl, people have tossed a few coppers as he impresses them by lifting a log with screaming children high above his head, until one of their mothers shrieks and makes him put the log down. But once that mother has led her daughter away by the ear, another group of street kids has lined up to watch him heft logs, large pieces of broken masonry or a sizable anvil donated by a nearby blacksmith.

[Everhar, meet Gronk 2.0]
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"The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne." - Chaucer

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good.” - John Steinbeck, East of Eden

"Be orderly in your life, and ordinary like a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your works." - Gustave Flaubert
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Old 11-27-2013, 04:15 PM
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Malek entered the Seventh Sail tavern and immediately took a step to the left out of habit, as not to make himself a silhouette in the door. He watched a fellow hunter take a bolt in the chest by standing too long in a tavern door a few seasons ago. It was not a mistake he wanted to experience first-hand. The funeral was sobering.

The half-orc nodded to the barkeep and placed his palm flat on the countertop; the faint scrape of coin caught the woman’s attention more readily than the drunk calling for her attention nearby.

“Been a while, Juna,” Malik rumbled. “What’s the word?”

“Ain’t nuthin to say, big man,” Juna scowled. “You done chased away some of my best customers.”

“It’s not my fault they broke laws or welched on debts.” He folded his arms across his chest in mock indignation. The barkeeper swept up the crown he left on the counter before anyone had a chance to notice it. “And I paid you a fair share for helping me out,” the half-orc reminded her.

Juna smiled genuinely this time. “Aye, that ya did. What can I getcha?”

“A pint of dark ale, and any news that might help me afford more of them.”

It was an expensively uninformative pint. As Malek feared, there were no leads to be had this day. The Seventh Sail saw many patrons so close to the docks, but none that were among Critfumblia’s most wanted. At least none that had caught the barkeep’s attention in the past few weeks. The half-orc settled in at the end of the bar and listened to Juna fill him in on the latest gossip in the dock ward.

As the afternoon stretched into evening, Malek caught sight of a few tavern regulars drifting in. Pleasantries were exchanged with a word, nod, or carefully concealed gesture. Most kept a respectful distance from him, but a few others clasped hands like old friends. A fellow hunter shared a drink and compared notes with the half-orc before parting company to seek his fortune elsewhere. None stayed to talk for long.

Rumours of war were being whispered about, and Malek listened carefully. It was one thing to eavesdrop on gossip. It was another to eavesdrop on genuine information. Fortunately, his face didn't brook arguments very often. (It’s not everyone that can stare down a half-crazed rampaging minotaur and live to talk about it. His face and chest bore the scars of that particular drinking contest. But it was worth it; hardly anyone could stare Malek down for long.) Wars came and went. If one nation wasn't infringing on another’s territories, it just wasn't doing things right. That seemed to be the way of things. If worst came to worst, he could always sell his services as a mercenary or guard. He hoped things weren't taking a turn for the worst just yet.

Malek stood and stretched, comfortable with the unease that most people felt around someone that appeared to be made of solid muscle. He gathered his cloak and adjusted his sword belt. A few more coins were deposited on the bar before he stepped out into the chill evening air.

It was time for a change of scenery. It was time to dig a little deeper, to visit the dark underbelly of Critfumblia and pay his respects.

It was time to go see The Black Orchid…
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